Yesterday it was the UK which scrambled a squadron of Typhoon jets when two Russian Tu-95 "Bear" Bombers had gotten too close to its shores, even if still located in international space. Then overnight, none other than the US did the same when two F-22 fighter jets intercepted six Russian military airplanes just over 50 miles away from the western coast of Alaska, military officials said Friday, among which identified as two IL-78 refueling tankers, two Mig-31 fighter jets and the same two "Bear" long-range bombers, which are known to carry tactical ICBMs with nuclear warheads among their arsenal.
According to the AP, they looped south and returned to their base in Russia after the U.S. jets were scrambled.
Lt. Col. Michael Jazdyk, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said the U.S. jets intercepted the planes about 55 nautical miles from the Alaskan coast at about 7 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday.
Additionally, at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted two of the long-range bombers about 40 nautical miles off the Canadian coastline in the Beaufort Sea.
In both cases, the Russian planes entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends about 200 miles from the coastline. They did not enter sovereign airspace of the United States or Canada.
Jazdyk said the fighter jets were scrambled “basically to let those aircraft know that we see them, and in case of a threat, to let them know we are there to protect our sovereign airspace.”
In the past five years, jets under NORAD’s command have intercepted more than 50 Russian bombers approaching North American airspace.
So just more training missions by Russia, or is the Kremlin testing out US and UK response capabilities?
And if the US scrambles jets whenever Russian jets fly over international airspace, some 200 miles away from the coastline, how should Russia feel when US, pardon NATO, military jets do combat missions some 20 miles away from the Russian border from the Baltics all the way to Ukraine? Or perhaps the answer is irrelevant, because when it comes to "feeling threatened", only one side of the rational response story matters.